Posts Tagged ‘religion’

What Is She Doing Up There? -or- How I Use My Hands In Worship

Hand

Last Sunday was our once-a-month praise service at my small-town Texas, Lutheran church. I recently joined the praise team for these services and I want to tell you why I felt really vulnerable up there this past Sunday.

Well, of course, as a pastor’s wife, there’s always, always a sense of being in a fish bowl–like everyone is watching my family and me even when we’re minding our own business. Fortunately, most of the church members in the churches we have been in have been very respectful of and gracious toward us fish in the bowl. Our current church has been exceptionally warm to all three of us, so that was no more a factor than usual this past Sunday.

No, the reason why I felt vulnerable is because I use my hands a lot in church. And suddenly, being up front, facing the congregation, all of my gestures were on display.

Nobody said anything to me about it, but with my view facing them I kinda couldn’t help but notice that not many other people (if any) use their hands quite as much as I do.

And here’s the other thing…I have the propensity to offend people across the spectrum of Christian faith expressions because I’m as likely to make the sign of the cross as I am to raise my hands to praise the Lord. Some people might accuse me of being too “religious” or too “Catholic” for crossing myself whereas others might be put off by my charismatic tendencies when I raise my hands. I could face scrutiny for either one, but put them together and what will people say?

And maybe they won’t say anything. And maybe they didn’t think a thing of it. And it is quite possible that I’m overthinking the whole thing because I do that.

Then again, maybe, and this is a big maybe…but maybe somebody else out there has been worried about looking too religious or letting their charismatic spirituality show…As vulnerable as I feel up there doing the things I do with my hands, maybe it can help free up others to express their whole selves in worship?

It could happen.

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This post has been added to Elizabeth Esther’s link-up: The Saturday Evening Blog Post, vol. 6, issue 2

Humorous video by Tim Hawkins about the different styles of hand raising: http://www.davidhousholder.com/raising-hands-in-church-0153-life-liberty/

Spiritual Growth Takes More Than “Just Add Water”

20130628-144715.jpgSummer is here and that means lots of free time for my dear son. So, the other day, he decided to try out some of his “grow animals.” Grow animals are these little encapsulated sponges that you put in water and they “magically” grow to be ten times their original size. Seeing these animals grow right before my very eyes got me thinking about our spiritual lives and how growth as a Christian doesn’t happen so easily.

What about Baptism?

As a good Lutheran, I am probably missing an opportunity to talk about the Sacrament of Baptism. We Lutherans are big on our Baptismal theology and teaching–through the waters of Baptism God adopts us as sons and daughters. Perhaps “just add water” could be a fun angle for a baptismal post.

But…

Living out our faith day in and day out, growing in Christ throughout our lives over time, is not something that just happens right before our very eyes. We can’t just add water and experience phenomenal growth in minutes. The truth is that even my son’s “grow animals” took more like days than minutes to reach their 10x growth potential.

What is involved with spiritual growth?

Spiritual growth, the ways we learn to rely more upon God and be more like Jesus in how we love our neighbors, involves:

  • God’s love and action for us first and foremost. Our growth in faith is an outgrowth of our trust in what God has first done for us through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
  • Showing up. How do we “show up” in our spiritual lives? By going to worship–hearing God’s Word and receiving the Sacraments. We also show up through spiritual disciplines like prayer and Bible study. Showing up at worship and spiritual disciplines gives us opportunities to connect with God which helps us grow in our faith and trust in God.
  • Spending time with fellow Christians and learning together how to best live our lives as the Body of Christ. By being with others who are also trying to live this out and grow in faith, we can share ideas and offer support when needed.
  • Practice over time. Growing in our spiritual lives doesn’t just happen in days or weeks, it takes months and years and decades. It is something that happens over the course of our entire lives.
  • Patience & learning from messes. Sometimes, maybe more often than any of us really want to admit, we mess up. We fail in some way to live up to the name of Christ. Sometimes Christians give Christianity a bad name. It is sad, but true. Instead of wallowing in our messes, we can learn from them and let those lessons become part of our growth.
  • Saying we’re sorry. When we do make messes, it is important to acknowledge them, and to say we’re sorry–to God and to those we’ve harmed. It is difficult for anyone to move forward when messes are left messy.

God is doing it!

Yes, growing in our faith is more complicated than “just add water.” But I do not intend for this list to be a legalistic checklist of whether we’re doing our faith-living right. This is merely descriptive of the types of experiences that contribute to our spiritual growth. Our spiritual growth does not happen on our own. It is not something we have to do for ourselves to make God love us, it is something that God works in and through us. May we each experience God’s love more deeply in our lives as we seek to grow in our love for God and our neighbors.

What do you think? Is there anything you would add to the list of what is involved in spiritual growth? What has helped you grow in your faith?

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If you enjoyed this post about spiritual growth, you may also appreciate the follow up post titled Let’s Talk About Spiritual Shrinking As Well As Spiritual Growth (click the title to read the post).